A surprising and rare twelve-hour storm that recently hit China’s northeastern city of Changchun resulted in the flooding of a car parking lot, where 283 new Audi cars were waiting delivery, causing damages worth $17 million.
The car lot was filled with the Chinese-only Audi A6L sedan, a model specifically designed with a longer wheelbase than the regular midsize executive car to accommodate the Chinese customers – usually bureaucrats and businessmen who favor being chauffeured around. The cars were waterlogged from the storm, which began in the afternoon of May 17 and only stopped at dawn the next day, according to a statement coming from the website of the automaker’s Chinese joint venture. Audi’s Chinese joint venture is headquartered in Changchun, the largest city in the Jilin province, which borders North Korea. The Audi A6L has a starting price of 383,000 yuan ($62,000), so the storm could bring losses for the company of more than $17 million in lost sales, after the company classified them as being damaged and decided they could not be sold.
Audi is the largest premium brand in China, the world’s biggest auto market and the second largest when it comes to luxury autos, but the fortunes of the German automaker are on a declining path. Audi and all of its luxury peers have seen the full force of the recent forecasted decline in Chinese sales, as the country’s auto market matures, the government reigns down on spending and corruption and the economy is predicted to grow at the slowest pace since the 1990s.